On our drive along I-71 to the Mohican State Park Resort and Conference Center in North-Central Ohio, near Loudonville, dark clouds loom in the distance. The storm passed ahead of Leroy and I, although a chilly wind follows in its wake, stirring up the earthy scents of the forest to greet us when we arrive at the Resort. Fall temperatures for the Perrysville- Loudonville area in Ohio normally ranges in the upper 50s at night. In the winter when guests visit the Mohican Memorial State Forest adjacent to the park to cruise the snowy trails on their snowmobiles temperatures drop to a high 20 degrees.

Lakeside at Mohican State Park.

A bit tired, we can’t resist slipping into our jackets and taking a brisk walk to admire the bright moon rising in the sky over Pleasant Hill Lake below the Mohican State Park Resort. The 6,000-acre Mohican State Park and Forest is peaceful except for the rustling of tree limbs and the distant hoot of an owl. For a brief moment I imagine the Delaware Indians huddled around a camp fire after a day of hunting before they were driven from the area during the War of 1812. The Mohican State Park, Resort, and Camp Grounds are packed throughout the year with those who love hunting, fishing on Pleasant Hill Lake, and camping at one of 123 sites in the park. Leroy draws me back from my thoughts to retire to our recently renovated and spacious guestroom where we relax with a cup of hot tea on a private balcony.

In the morning the lobby is filled with aroma of fresh baked muffins. While we dined on our selections of fresh fruits and baked goods from the wonderful buffet at the Bromfield Restaurant outside the window the squirrels and blue jays shared a meal. Afterwards, Leroy challenges me to a quick game of pool while a family tests their skills at table tennis. Of course, he wins, but there’s always later when I’m sure to win at checkers, chess, or a number of other games available for entertainment in the lobby. For now we’re headed out to admire the fall foliage, shop, and catch a parade in Loudonville on our first day out.

Fall leaves skitter across the road while we drive through the beautiful forests and over a scenic river below a covered bridge. On our way to Loudonville we find the historic Pine Run Grist Mill where festivals are held annually. There is also a wonderful assortment of outdoor activities like horse back riding, canoeing, and go-carts for our family to enjoy on our summer camping trip next year.

Ahead, we spot the cars and crowds headed toward downtown Loudonville for the parade. While waiting for the floats and bands to pass we chat with our new friend, Paula. Almost like magic, she waves her hand and who should appear walking down the sidewalk . . . Sylvester, the cat.

Shopping in Loudonville.

It’s these unexpected moments in small towns I’ve come to enjoy most on our trips after growing up in the big city of Los Angeles. Loudonville has fabulous shops like the Books, Bangles, and Brews, offering dining, hand-dipped ice cream, homemade desserts, and previously read books. I love books, but before I could get too close Leroy quickly steered me toward the door and gently reminded me I have plenty at home on my shelf to finishing reading first. That’s all right; I also like Southwest décor and found a great selection of gifts, Indian art, and jewelry in the Creative Outlet, which also has a wonderful Relaxation Center . Across the street I discovered unique gifts for family and friends and heavenly scented homemade bath products by Grandma’s Cupboard and at a precious shop called The Extraordinary Shoppe.

A Prince Suite at the Castle.

To complete our day we took a trip to Landoll's Mohican Castle located seven miles from Loudonville. We climb a tree-lined drive and take in an amazed breath of awe; here stands a German-style castle from a fairy tale with turrets and oriels, right in Ohio. It is not the castle that makes the man, but his compassion and kindness. We knew this was true when we shook Mr. Jim Landoll's hand.

The castle is a reflection of hard work and dedication to his family who work with him on site to make the dreams of guests come true. We listen while he describes the preparations for the fairy tale wedding. His eyes light up when this humble man speaks about past weddings when the bride becomes a princess standing on the balcony of his castle and waves down at her prince below. In addition to weddings, Landoll's Mohican Castle also host conferences and banquets. Guests staying at one of the eleven elegant suites or luxury cottage at the castle can wander the 30 miles of trails throughout the 1,100 acre woodlands, or work out in the fitness center adjacent to the pool with sauna rooms,and a cascading waterfall. The elegant suites have convenient kitchens, luxury Jacuzzi’s, and inviting fireplaces. 

Legends At The Castle Restaurant.

After a tour of the grounds, which are held daily, we stop for a bitefor lunch at the Legends at the Castle Restaurant. Many of the recipes prepared at the restaurant include fresh produce and herbs from the Landoll estate's greenhouses.  Favorite among the guests we spoke to include Landoll's Blueberry Hill Estate vinaigrette, and fresh baked breads, and the Legends' signature dessert, Landoll's Blueberry Hill Estate Organic Piefin. I do not know the name of my favorite, but it is a delicious slice of pumpkin pie with a thin layer of cheese cake, and topped with swirls of caramel.

Guests travel from far away to visit Landoll's Mohican Castle when it is lit with one million white lights at night from November 1 through March 31, and to shop in Landoll's Mohican Castle Shoppe. We discovered one-of-a-kind gift’s, hand-painted glassware, and fresh baked goods before our trip home. With gifts packed carefully we drive off into a beautiful sunset and wonder what amazing sites we’ll find on our next trip.  

For a great taste of small town spirit, shopping, and adventures outdoors, call the Loudonville Convention and Visitors Bureau toll free  at 877/266-4422.

Places to shop when in Loudonville:

The Creative Outlet and Relaxation Center is located at 130 N. Union Stree t; Books, Bangles, and Brews, 153 W. Main Street ; The Extraordinary Shoppe, 231 West Main Street : 419/994-5333; Stony Mountain Bontanicals, 141 North Water Street : 419/994-4857 or logon at http://www.wildroots.com and also the Four Season's Flowers And Gifts, 211 West Main Street : 419/994-ROSE or 419/994-3288, http://www.fourseasons-flowers.com

The Mohican State Park Resort and Conference Center is located at 1098 Ashland County Rd. #3006 in Perrysville, O hio . For reservations call: 419938-5411 or visit http://www.mohicanresort.com. To book conference space contact 800/282-7275 or logon to www.xanterra.com

Landoll's Mohican Castle and the Legends of The Castle Restaurant are located at 561 TWP R oad 3352 in Loudonville, Ohio . For accommodations or to make reservations at the Legends of The Castle Restaurant call 800/291-5001 or logon at www.landollsmohicancastle.com

By Melinda Scofield, Jetsetters Magazine Midwest Correspondent.